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JayceeB

Recommended FF Camera for RAW file Ambient Light White Balance in Post

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For those who have experience processing RAW files shot with ambient light in blue water with FF mirrorless cameras, can you give any observations on which brand/model is easier to accurately white balance RAW files in post?

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1 hour ago, JayceeB said:

For those who have experience processing RAW files shot with ambient light in blue water with FF mirrorless cameras, can you give any observations on which brand/model is easier to accurately white balance RAW files in post?

The easiest are those that do custom WB underwater well.  The starting point for most raw editors is to use the WB as determined by camer if that is close it is easier to fine tune.

Apart from that the steps to WB in raw should all be basically the same the standard approach in most raw developers is to use the color temperature and tint sliders

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Thanks, Chris.

I currently have my WB set as 'Auto', and only capture RAW.  Does setting custom white balance underwater actually give you the ability to get better white balance out of the RAW file?  Or does it just make it easier to fine tune?  The reason I am asking is i find my ambient RAW files have a 'magenta' tone to the water that is difficult to remove without altering the white balance of the subject.  Wondering if all cameras suffer from this, or only specific brands/models.

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6 hours ago, JayceeB said:

Thanks, Chris.

I currently have my WB set as 'Auto', and only capture RAW.  Does setting custom white balance underwater actually give you the ability to get better white balance out of the RAW file?  Or does it just make it easier to fine tune?  The reason I am asking is i find my ambient RAW files have a 'magenta' tone to the water that is difficult to remove without altering the white balance of the subject.  Wondering if all cameras suffer from this, or only specific brands/models.

It depends on a number of things.  If you are too deep you run out of red light and the files won't correct properly no matter what you do.  Typically you would correct a magenta tone by adjusting the tint, though there are other methods to use as well.  Could you post an example file that is well exposed?

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Here's an export of the RAW file before and after correcting.  Is the original too underexposed?

DSC02564_before.jpg

DSC02564_after.jpg

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A couple of questions, how far are you from the dolphins and how deep?  There is not much red light in the histogram for this shot, you've basically managed to balance the dolphins but in the process suck the life out of the water.  How did you WB this one?

It looks like you are shooting into the light with this shot as well, it would probably balance better with the sun behind you?  I don't think setting the WB UW would change things very much on this shot.  A red or a magic filter might help more by blocking some of the blue/green light.  I would still try doing a custom WB at the same depth when you are next out - it certainly won't hurt.

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I am fairly close to the dolphins ~15'.  Lens is 28-60mm @60mm with WWL-1B.  30-40' deep.

I white balanced this in Lightroom.  Started with the eye-dropper on the dolphin's white belly, then fine tuned with sliders.

Screen Shot 2022-04-06 at 3.04.09 PM.png

Screen Shot 2022-04-06 at 3.06.33 PM.png

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Here is another shot (before/after processing) on the same dive with the sun behind me at approximately the same depth, but further away from the dolphins.

DSC02557_before.jpg

DSC02557_after.jpg

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It looks like it has clocked out on correction to maximum on colour temperature.  As I recall you are shooting with Sony A7C, Sony used to have a reputation for not White balancing so well, but believe they have improved recently. Other camera makes have a reputation for doing WB better, but I'm not sure it would make a huge difference.

I think your issue is mostly down to the fact that the dolphins are blue as is the water and if you correct one you also shift the other - so it sucks all of the blue out of the image.  Your second image does look better but if it were me I would back off a bit towards the original and stop where it seems the water colour is about right.  I think the water really needs to appear a nice blue.  I could post a smaple if you like?

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JayceeB

It wound't be easy, but you could try the Masks feature in LR and see if you can isolate the dolphins and treat them separately from the general background?

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1 hour ago, TimG said:

JayceeB

It wound't be easy, but you could try the Masks feature in LR and see if you can isolate the dolphins and treat them separately from the general background?

Wash your mouth out Tim, drawing masks in a definite no-no for me very hard to get a clean transition between the masked/ummasked area unless the shift is quite subtle.:)

But seriously it seems like a losing battle to me.  I've never used one but wondering if a magic filter might be worth trying?  They claim to do just what is trying to be achieved here.  A little difficult with the WWL of course, but you could place a gel inside the flat port - it'd be there for the whole dive.

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25 minutes ago, ChrisRoss said:

I've never used one but wondering if a magic filter might be worth trying?  They claim to do just what is trying to be achieved here.  A little difficult with the WWL of course, but you could place a gel inside the flat port - it'd be there for the whole dive.

That might be a good idea.  Alex Mustard might have a thought on that. ;-)

I used a magic filter for a while, several years ago, and it definitely could make a difference in ambient light pictures but if I recall correctly, its effect varied a fair bit depending on the direction of the ambient light.  I suspect it could help with photos like these.  It would be a fairly inexpensive experiment at the worst.

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32 minutes ago, ChrisRoss said:

Wash your mouth out Tim, drawing masks in a definite no-no for me very hard to get a clean transition between the masked/ummasked area unless the shift is quite subtle.:)

But seriously it seems like a losing battle to me.  I've never used one but wondering if a magic filter might be worth trying?  They claim to do just what is trying to be achieved here.  A little difficult with the WWL of course, but you could place a gel inside the flat port - it'd be there for the whole dive.

Tsk, shame on you, Chris. The masks are good! :pardon:

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I think using a filter is worth a try, but will dedicate the dive to ambient, unless i removed the WWL and used a flip.

 

I wonder if these same shots would WB significantly better if shot with a Canon or Nikon or different Sony model.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, JayceeB said:

I think using a filter is worth a try, but will dedicate the dive to ambient, unless i removed the WWL and used a flip.

 

I wonder if these same shots would WB significantly better if shot with a Canon or Nikon or different Sony model.

You can use the filter with WWL-1. The magic filter can sit inside the lens or you can use the Keldan red filter for WWL-1 which is about twice as expensive. If you choose to use strobes or other lighting source (including the sun, shooting close to the surface), it makes things more difficult.

 

Edited: Just did some more reading (https://www.uwphotographyguide.com/underwater-photography-filters). It looks like the filters only help in a fairly narrow depth range where you have enough red, but too much blue/green.  Beyond that, you would need a light source or live with blue photos

Edited by vaidhy
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20 minutes ago, vaidhy said:

You can use the filter with WWL-1. The magic filter can sit inside the lens or you can use the Keldan red filter for WWL-1 which is about twice as expensive. If you choose to use strobes or other lighting source (including the sun, shooting close to the surface), it makes things more difficult.

 

Edited: Just did some more reading (https://www.uwphotographyguide.com/underwater-photography-filters). It looks like the filters only help in a fairly narrow depth range where you have enough red, but too much blue/green.  Beyond that, you would need a light source or live with blue photos

Thanks @vaidhy for digging that article up.  It's a good read.

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6 hours ago, vaidhy said:

You can use the filter with WWL-1. The magic filter can sit inside the lens or you can use the Keldan red filter for WWL-1 which is about twice as expensive. If you choose to use strobes or other lighting source (including the sun, shooting close to the surface), it makes things more difficult.

 

Edited: Just did some more reading (https://www.uwphotographyguide.com/underwater-photography-filters). It looks like the filters only help in a fairly narrow depth range where you have enough red, but too much blue/green.  Beyond that, you would need a light source or live with blue photos

They should be usable down to 10-15m depending on water clarity.  The main point to consider is that if there is not enough red light for the filter, there won't be enough to do a white balance on the image either. 

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Filters also require adjustments in composition to work well. In general they need a slight downward angle, typically with the sun behind the shooter. Given the range of the spectrum, capturing the surface in your shot as per your examples above, will result in some nasty color effects. 

In simple terms, I think the single best improvement you can make with the images above would be to position yourself with the sun behind you, and use this to light up the dolphins. Sun angle and direction is super important with ambient light photography. 

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22 hours ago, ChrisRoss said:

They should be usable down to 10-15m depending on water clarity.  The main point to consider is that if there is not enough red light for the filter, there won't be enough to do a white balance on the image either. 

That's an interesting nuance that I did not know before this discussion.  I somehow thought you could put red back into the photo/video at any depth by using a filter.

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17 hours ago, adamhanlon said:

Filters also require adjustments in composition to work well. In general they need a slight downward angle, typically with the sun behind the shooter. Given the range of the spectrum, capturing the surface in your shot as per your examples above, will result in some nasty color effects. 

In simple terms, I think the single best improvement you can make with the images above would be to position yourself with the sun behind you, and use this to light up the dolphins. Sun angle and direction is super important with ambient light photography. 

Thank you, Adam.  I had a very similar dive today.  Your post was in my head.  I tried to stay higher in the water column and with the sun behind me.  You can't always pick which side the dolphins pass on, but I did get some where the pod cooperated :). Haven't looked at the shots yet though.

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1 hour ago, JayceeB said:

That's an interesting nuance that I did not know before this discussion.  I somehow thought you could put red back into the photo/video at any depth by using a filter.

Filters can't add what is not there - they work by subtracting blue/green light.

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